Real Estate News

Russian billionaire betting big on Miami’s luxury condo market

While most developers are pulling back as Miami’s high-end condo market slows, Vladislav Doronin is pushing forward with a 57-story luxury condo tower, and two more projects after it.

The Russian real-estate magnate’s Miami-based development company OKO Group is spending about a billion dollars to acquire the land and develop three local properties. Going up first: the $350 million Missoni Baia in the Edgewater neighborhood.

“Miami has become a 24-hour city and has become internationally significant,” Doronin said in a phone interview. “Miami’s airport is ranked second for international passengers in the United States. I also like the good weather and the happy lifestyle in Miami.”

Missoni Baia will seek to leverage both weather and lifestyle with views of both Biscayne Bay, which it fronts, and the city from its 146 multimillion-dollar residences.

Doronin, 53, is well known in international real-estate circles. Early in his career, according to The Wall Street Journal, Doronin traded commodities under the direction of Marc Rich, the oil trader charged by the U.S. with violating sanctions with Iran and tax evasion before being pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

In 1993, the St. Petersburg-born Doronin turned to real estate and launched Capital Group in Moscow, developing more than 70 projects with a total of 75 million square feet of commercial, retail and luxury residential space and working over the years with French architect Jacques Grange, the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid. His 85-story OKO Tower in central Moscow is Europe’s tallest completed skyscraper. Dubbed one of the “Kings of Russian Real Estate” by Forbes in 2014, Doronin is also chairman and owner of the ultra-luxury Aman hotel company, which he purchased in 2014 with a partner; a contentious court battle between the two recently was ruled in Doronin’s favor. He’s looking for a Miami Beach site for the expanding Aman.

Although Missoni Baia will be his first Miami venture, Doronin’s no stranger to the city. In 2014, he partnered with veteran Miami developer Ugo Colombo on the Brickell Flatiron condo project and another property in Brickell. They parted ways early this year, with Colombo taking the Flatiron and Doronin continuing with the Brickell property, one of the next projects on Doronin’s runway.

He has had vacation homes in the Miami area for the past decade; in 2009, he bought the Star Island home previously owned by Shaquille O’Neal, according to media reports. Although Doronin has not given many interviews over the years, he has drawn paparazzi attention for, among other things, his previous romantic involvement with supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Last year, he formed OKO Group based in Miami to focus exclusively on the U.S. market, primarily Miami and New York City. In addition to the three Miami properties, OKO Group is redeveloping New York’s landmark Crown Building — previously owned by the late Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and later the family of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer at the tony corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.

And despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, Doronin believes there’s room in the Miami condo market for a project that is different.

In the last three or four years when the market was great, everybody could build everything and everything could be sold. Right now, if you make a different product, it can still sell well.

Real estate developer Vladislav Doronin

“In the last three or four years when the market was great, everybody could build everything and everything could be sold. Right now, if you make a different product, it can still sell well,” said Doronin. “We have done our research, and we believe the time is right to bring a high-quality, sophisticated product to Miami. We are bringing a new product to the market that does not exist.”

The market isn’t so sure. With a strong U.S. dollar and slowing global economy, many Miami real-estate projects have gone back to the drawing board or have stalled, according to a 2016 report from the Miami Downtown Development Association. The number of projects taking reservations and in contracts in the urban core of Miami dropped by 42 percent year over year, the report said. Others have eased deposit requirements or offered other incentives to spur sales.

More broadly, Miami’s luxury condo sales fell 13.8 percent in the first quarter over the previous quarter and 18.8 percent year over year, while days on the market doubled, according to a market report by the Elliman reality firm.

Indeed, real-estate analyst Jonathan Miller has seen the Miami condo market downshift in the last year.

“We’re seeing a slowdown in what is being announced and longer absorption periods than when the deals were conceptualized. The international buyer is still in play, but not at the same intensity with a stronger dollar,” said Miller, president and CEO MillerSamuels, a real-estate appraisal and consulting group that covers markets across the U.S. He believes the next few years will bring an expansion of inventory that could keep prices moving sideways.

In Doronin’s view, New Yorkers and residents of other U.S. cities are still a likely market for his Miami projects, along with international buyers looking to move capital from South America, Europe and China to the relative security of the U.S. market.

“When the economy is great, people buy; and when the economy is in trouble, people try to move money out and they like real estate. … We see a lot of Europeans moving because of security, because America is very safe for their families.”

The Missoni brand will differentiate the property, he believes. Missoni Baia is the first residential collaboration for the well-known Italian fashion house and will incorporate Missoni’s trademark color palette and Missoni Home collection in the tower’s public spaces.

“It’s a great brand, with the same happy color like Miami. The Missoni brand is a match with Miami,” Doronin said.

Features and amenities include a boutique residential ambience with three “villas in the sky” per floor with private elevators and generous balconies, plus an Olympic-sized lap pool, hot and cold plunge pools, a children’s pool and an infinity pool, tennis courts, an expansive gym overlooking the bay, and a spa.

“Most important is it’s a 57-floor residence but only 146 apartments, which is really unique. Everything in Miami is 300-plus,” Doronin said.

Missoni Baia architect Hani Rashid of the New York firm Asymptote Architecture said the design aims to reflect Miami’s new sophistication.

“From the New York perspective, we’ve watched Miami grow up, jealously at times, and it is becoming a more sophisticated global metropolis,” Rashid said. “For us, it was really exciting to design a building that can meet a high bar that is being set in recent years. We’re excited to be a part of the new Miami.”

For us, it was really exciting to design a building that can meet a high bar that is being set in recent years. We’re excited to be a part of the new Miami.

Missoni Baia architect Hani Rashid of the New York firm Asymptote Architecture

The architecture firm is best known for international projects including the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, 166 Perry Street luxury condominium in New York and flagship stores for Carlos Miele and Alessi. It’s also currently working on a museum for modern art at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a theater in Italy.

In Miami, he said, he hopes the building will elevate and catalyze the Edgewater district, the eastern area north of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and east of Wynwood.

“Rather than go down the route of a formally expressive building that is more sculptural and trying to be very loud, we decided to go for a more demure building that is playing against light, against the atmosphere, against the cityscape,” Rashid said.

“We are very focused on building at that scale elegance and serenity, something that resonates with the cityscape and stands out for that reason and not for reasons of flamboyance or coloration or gratuitous form. I’m pretty confident as the years go by this building will be appreciated for its architectural intentions.”

The recently opened sales center, at 777 NE 26th Ter., includes a representation of the open living, dining and kitchen area of a unit, as well as the master closet and bathroom. New York designer Paris Forino, known for her high-end custom private homes who is designing all the building’s public spaces, also designed the the sales center, which is adorned with Missoni furnishings, as well as designer pieces, finishes of pale woods, polished nickel, light-colored stone and grey-blue marbles, floor to ceiling windows and contemporary art from Doronin’s private collection, including works by Nate Lowman, Dan Colen, Julian Schnabel and George Condo.

“Light, bright and reflective — that’s our inspiration,” Forino said. “When people walk in, moods lift.”

The sales center isn’t quite complete and has been open only by appointment, but some units have already been reserved, said Alicia Cervera, president of Cervera Real Estate, which is exclusively marketing the Missoni Baia. Interest is high because of the condo’s features and the stature of the development and design team, and the Missoni brand helps as well, she said. On a recent morning, potential buyers wearing Missoni fashions were meeting with the sales team.

Doronin said he hopes to break ground next year on the Missoni Baia, with completion in 2019. The 2,500 to 3,700 square foot units, with two to four bedrooms, will be priced at about $900 per square foot, with 50 percent deposits required, he said. That’s a starting price tag of about $2.25 million.

Brickell City Centre, a mixed-use complex of luxury condos, office buildings, hotel and shopping center, is expected to transform Brickell to a work and live, shop and dine nexus. The project was still under construction in this May 2016 video.

OKO Group has two other Miami residential projects in the plans: a bayfront, 48-story luxury residential tower at 175 SE 25th Rd., and another high-rise at 830 Brickell Ave., across from Brickell City Centre.

OKO Group has two other Miami residential projects in the plans: a bayfront 48-story luxury residential tower at 175 SE 25th Rd., and another highrise at 830 Brickell Ave., across from Brickell City Centre — “also a good site, but different, with more action and everything,” Doronin said.

Reports have recently surfaced that the OKO Group is trying to aggressively buy out residents in two oceanfront Miami Beach condo buildings on Collins Avenue — the Amethyst and the adjoining La Costa — for luxury condos. Attempts to reach Amethyst management were unsuccessful, and OKO would not confirm specifics.

But Doronin said he is planning to expand the global Aman hotel brand and is scouting for an exceptional site in Miami Beach.

“For Aman, it has to be no compromise, it has to be the best location,” Doronin said. “Now’s the time. The Aman hotel will do great in Miami — no doubt.”

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